I had hoped the anti-marijuana stand many have previously taken would’ve died down, considering medicinal marijuana has been legal in California for 20 years and legalization for recreational use is just a few months away. But apparently not everyone got the memo.
The writer in this case is the founder of something called the “Take Back America Campaign,” and if he has his way, he’ll take us back to the days of street corner dealers. Not exactly progress, is it? He calls marijuana a “magnet for crime,” and doing it his way, it most certainly is, and will continue to be.
I’ll use a (his) Point, (my) Counter-Point rebuttal.
• Point: “More than 83 percent of cities and counties in California now ban cultivation and/or dispensaries.” C-P: According to Marijuana Business Daily, currently, out of California’s 482 cities, only 160 ban the product. That’s 34 percent, and someone needs a new calculator.
• Point: “The term medical marijuana is fraudulent. It is rightly categorized as a Schedule 1 drug because it has no accepted medicinal value …” C-P: The ridiculous inclusion of marijuana with heroin (currently a growing epidemic), LSD, etc. as a Schedule 1 drug continues the Catch 22 dilemma. Because of the Schedule 1 status, research labs are reluctant to get involved for fear of federal prosecution. And due to lack of “official” research, even though the benefits are undeniable, it can’t be moved from Schedule 1 to Schedule 5, where it belongs. One who is bucking the system is Dr. Sue Sisley. Her quote: “Twenty-two veterans a day are killing themselves.” Let that sink in for a moment. Having interviewed many veterans, she has anecdotal evidence that marijuana helps with PTSD symptoms, but hard evidence is needed. She is joined by Marcel Bonn-Miller, professor of psychiatry from the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Ryan Vandrey, associate professor from Johns Hopkins University in a study authorized by the Department of Health and Human Services. The study is currently underway in Arizona.
Over the years marijuana has been found to be an effective treatment for several different maladies, many of which appear on a November 2002 medicinal marijuana approval list compiled by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, including multiple sclerosis, ALS symptoms, Alzheimer’s disease, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, appetite stimulant, sleep aid and more. A 2015 documented case involves a 3-year-old Ohio girl, Addison Benton, who began having seizures at age nine months. The seizures increased to more than 1,000 per day. She was diagnosed with severe intractable myoclonic epilepsy. She couldn’t say her own name and was developmentally disabled. Her parents saw a documentary on medicinal marijuana that indicated high CBD (cannabidiol) strains of cannabis can have a strong anti-seizure effect and moved to Colorado to try a treatment not available in Ohio. Six hours after the first dose “she lit up,” according to her parents. She now has three or fewer seizures a day and has a chance at a normal life.
From a recent George Will column: “Jim McMahon, 56, another 15-year quarterback, said he considers medicinal marijuana a “godsend” as he copes with headaches and difficulties associated with his diagnosis of early onset dementia. He played for the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX (1986).”
• Point: “….98 percent is consumed for recreational use.” C/P: This is pure fiction. In Colorado, where both forms are legal, according to medicaldiary.com/Colorado, as of June 2015, recreational use — 20 percent, medicinal use — 80 percent.
• Point: “Marijuana stinks.” C-P: Oh, you bet it does. An adequate air filtration system is a necessity for urban indoor growing operations.
• Point: “Marijuana is not grown for medicine.” C-P: Where does he get this stuff? Of course it is. The quantity of a harvest is not an indication of usage.
• Point: “BHO causes explosions.” C-P: Butane hash oil (I had to look it up) when improperly manufactured can, indeed, be an explosive proposition. So are fireworks in the wrong hands. So are my wife’s tacos. This is not a new procedure and it’ll continue to be with us even after legalization.
• Point: Marijuana is a magnet for crime.” C-P: Well, yes, here it’s still an illegal substance. Buy a lid from your favorite dealer and risk going to jail. After legalization, which should occur this November (according to the Huffington Post, in June 2015, 54 percent of California voters favored legalization — that number is now 65 percent), the police will be able to concentrate more on real crime, and our overloaded justice system can take a breather.
• Point: Addicts can’t work .. so they turn to crime to feed their habit.” C-P: Wow, shades of the 1936 classic government propaganda film, “Reefer Madness.” And Washington wonders why we don’t trust them. Marijuana is not addictive, it is habit forming. Quitting incurs emotional, not physical symptoms. You’d have a more difficult time quitting coffee — I tried it once. As for turning to crime? Tell that to these admitted recreational marijuana users who seem to punch the time clock regularly: Maureen Dowd, Matthew McConaughey, both Jennifers Aniston and Lawrence, Phil Jackson, Matt Damon, Al Gore, Glen Beck, Aaron Sorkin, CO Gov. John Hickenlooper, MA Gov. Charlie Baker, Tom Brokaw, Brad Pitt, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Clarence Thomas, John Kerry, Oprah Winfrey and President Barack Obama, just to name a few.
• Point: “Marijuana is a harmful drug that can cause brain damage and loss of IQ for anyone under 25.” C-P: Here, we almost agree. Although the jury’s still out (from LiveScience.com: “…. tests, so far, are inconclusive.”), logic suggests subjecting still developing grey matter to the yet to be clarified effects of marijuana is probably not wise. However, by the age of 21 the human brain has attained its maximum weight, and most neurobiologists believe any intellectual growth beyond that is incidental. Recreational marijuana, as is alcohol, should be restricted to those over 21. The real killer, tobacco, should be age 21 restricted as well.
• Point: “It also causes mental illness, and psychotic breaks leading to violent acts.” C-P: There is no study confirming anything of the kind. However, marijuana can exacerbate a pre-existing condition, although not to the degree that a stimulant will.
• Point: “ … it is a gateway to (other) drugs …” C-P: From the National Institute of Drug Abuse: “ … Findings are consistent with the idea of marijuana as a “gateway drug.” However, most people who use marijuana do not go on to use other “harder” substances. Alcohol and nicotine also prime the brain for a heightened response to other drugs …”
• Point: “… ban all privately owned cultivation sites and dispensaries … one state owned and controlled cultivation site would supply state owned dispensaries …” C-P : Do away with free enterprise? I’m all for government provided health care, but this is a bit too socialistic for my tastes. And what about crop failure? Can’t have all the eggs in one basket.
Former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders in the Clinton administration (who resigned under pressure for suggesting masturbation should be included in sex education classes — solo sex is still sex, isn’t it?) was a proponent of marijuana legalization in 1993. The woman was ahead of her time. She continues to be in the vanguard of cannabis policy changes, endorsing the narrowly failed 2010 California Prop. 19, legalizing recreational marijuana. She will be keynote speaker at the upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco. Current Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has answered the call. He’s preparing a unique study on “the state of science on substance use, addiction and health.” Murthy recently stated, “We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, that marijuana can be helpful.” It had to happen eventually … a voice of reason from someone in a position to actually accomplish something.
And finally, if we smoke too much pot and get sick, we can always treat it with medicinal marijuana (thanks to Bill Maher).
— Michael J. Haworth/Vallejo